It's one of the most frequently asked health questions for women in their 30s and 40s: when should I get my first mammogram? And how often do I need to get one?
"There are so many confusing recommendations," says Jennifer Manders, MD, breast surgeon at The Christ Hospital. "Many of the patients I see have breast cancer, and therefore I have a more biased opinion. I tend to be much more aggressive about when mammograms should start."
Dr. Manders suggests getting your first mammogram at age 40, unless you have a family history of cancer or specific reason for needing an earlier screening mammogram. If your mom, sister or other close relative has been diagnosed with breast cancer, it's important to work with your doctor to determine a breast cancer screening schedule.
Early breast cancer detection can save lives
Early detection is key for breast cancer. Our Women's Health team at The Christ Hospital offers comprehensive, compassionate care to our female patients of all ages. If you have any concerns about your health, we are here.
Our expert team recommends the following tips for early breast cancer detection:
Get an annual mammogram. Pair it with a specific time of year to help you remember to schedule it annually, put a reminder in your phone or make your best friend an accountability buddy. Just make sure to schedule your mammogram each year.
Establish a monthly breast self-exam. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, more than 40 percent of breast cancers are first detected when a woman feels a lump. Experts recommend a breast self-exam in the shower, in front of a mirror or when lying down.
Get annual checkups that include a clinical breast exam. Your yearly gynecological appointment should include a clinical breast exam by your physician. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women 19 and older have clinical breast exams during their annual appointments.
You know your breasts best. Contact your physician right away if you notice something feels different in your breasts. Early detection is key for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Learn your risk. Know your family history and be proactive about your health. Make sure your physician is aware of female cancers that run in your family, including breast, ovarian, cervical and uterine.
The Christ Hospital offers seven convenient mammography locations in the greater Cincinnati area. Use our online appointment scheduling for routine screening mammograms. If you have specific breast concerns like a lump or discharge, please call 513-585-2668 to discuss your needs with our scheduler to ensure you get the most appropriate test.